Packing for Wednesday's Assignment. Photographing at a Law Firm. A re-make of a 2015 Photographic Classic.


Packing for a location adventure. My client is a law firm. About six years ago we created photographs for their new (at the time) website. Most of the images were either posed portraits with out of focus backgrounds or they were candid shots of people at work, doing their lawyer thing. 

At the time I was really into doing everything with big LED panels. I'd recently purchased the Aputure LightStorm LED panels and I was using them for every project. It was fun and, looking back at the photos from the time, I think it worked out very well. But it required using lights in a way that was more like illuminating a video set than a still shoot. We were using the lights by shooting them through diffusion screens on frames so each light required both a stand for the active fixture but also a second stand to hold the diffusion screen. That meant extra stands to carry and set up. It slowed the process down a bit. And, strategically, it was a hassle because the law firm's offices were in a large, historic house with three floors and no elevator. When we moved from floor to floor we had to stop and pack first and then drag all the gear up their stairs. 

Fortunately Ben was home from college on break and agreed to assist me. He's super detail oriented which often saves me from myself and he was in great shape and never complained about the sheer load of the lighting package. 

I've mellowed on lighting since then and have opted for efficiency over shows of exuberant eccentricity. My lighting kit for this Wednesday consists of two Godox AD200, battery powered flashes and one Godox V1 flash with some fun modifiers and accessories. All the flash stuff plus a meter and extra batteries fits in one Think Tank Photo Airport Advantage roller case. And it fits with room to spare. I've also strapped a Sirui tripod to the outside of the case. Packed with lighting gear and it still weighs in at less than 20 pounds. So nice. 

The lighting modifiers are minimal. A couple of light stands, a 60 inch white/black ext. umbrella and a 40 inch white/black umbrella. Oh, and also a stand and arm for a 5-in-1 pop up reflector/diffuser. That's it. That's everything. There's a stand bag for the stands and umbrellas. It's not very heavy either. 

Finally, I'm packing two Leica SL cameras, the 24-90mm Leica zoom and a Panasonic 24-105mm zoom as a back-up. A couple extra batteries and a small notebook and pen. 

The flashes work well with the SL and the Godox X1-T triggers. I can control the output of all three flashes from the camera position but Godox doesn't make a Leica trigger so TTL is a non-starter. That's fine. And as a helpful nod to people using camera gear that's outside the flash popularity circle Godox has a function setting on the triggers that allows you to turn off all the trigger contacts except for the center contact, which is a standard sync configuration. If you set that you know you are NOT going to accidentally fry your insanely expensive camera body....

As is typical these days we'll start around 10 a.m. so I don't have to miss morning swim practice. That's in the contract. We have to have priorities even when the world seems to be falling apart. Especially when the world seems to be falling apart. 

blog note: I wasn't able to get that photo walk in today with the new (to me) TTArtisan 50mm f1.2 lens. Maybe  tomorrow instead. After swim practice....

I once wrote a book about working with portable flashes. I think I'll browse through it once again, before Wednesday. A refresh.

New arrival at the studio. Another TTArtisan lens. Afternoon walk should be interesting...

This shot was a detail of a wider photograph I shot yesterday in Llano, Texas. 
It's my favorite shot from the day. But the interesting thing to me is that I actually pre-visualized this final result when I was photographing the full image. Usually I don't think through photographs I just see stuff and react to it. Of course, it's different with client work but there's so much that's different there.
I saw the stars and I liked the exact perspective and compression but the longest focal 
length I had with me was 90mm. I composed a wider shot with that focal length and made 
a mental note to keep stuff out that might interfere with a good crop back in the studio. 
It was taken with the Leica SL + 24-90 mm.

After spending last week evaluating the 35mm and 17mm f1.4 lenses from TTArtisans I summed up my feelings about these lenses with a sense of surprise at how good the image quality from both lenses turned out to be. The 35mm is very good but the 17mm is even better. In a very short time frame I was outfitting my Leica CL system with a wider and faster lenses than I thought I'd be able to when I bought the naked camera back in late October. I took a breather from the CL to shoot with my full frame camera at an event last Thursday and again in Llano, yesterday. But at some point on Saturday I circled back and started looking to see what other lenses were on offer for the APS-C camera which might help complete stocking a core, prime lens-based system. 

What kept popping up was the 50mm f 1:1.2 TTArtisans lens. It's bit bigger than the other two lenses but still small and easy to handle. I watched a few of my favorite YouTube reviewers (almost exclusively people who purchase the lenses they review with their own money!) and found that the lens was well regarded. There are the typical "faults" we would expect for a very fast and extremely inexpensive lens. The TTArtisan's 50mm for APS-C is has a very large maximum aperture and almost every lens of that nature comes complete with higher vignetting at the first two whole apertures and also is not fully sharp in the corners when used at the maximum aperture. It also has no communication abilities that electronically link lens and cameras so no auto focus and no synergistic exposure automation between the two. 

On the positive side of the ledger even when used wide open reviewers found the central core results from the lens adequately sharp, if a bit low in contrast. Stopped down to f2.0 it sharpened up nicely and gained proper contrast. I have to say, at this point, that I haven't shot the lens on the CL yet. I'm passing along what I viewed or read leading up to my own purchase. (Disclaimer. I paid $98 plus state sales tax of 8.25% for this lens. The funds came from my own accounts which are refreshed from time to time with proceeds of fees I charge to actual, commercial clients. No one offered me any compensation of any kind to write about TTArtisan lenses). 

In the wild reality of today's online commerce strategies I ordered the lens on Saturday afternoon and it was delivered to my front door the next evening, around 7 pm. Wow. That's fast. 

With the addition of this lens I have an APS-C system that features lenses with the FF equivalent focal range of 25mm, 50mm and 75mm. That's a really nice range for street photography and maybe even some commercial work. If I add the small and lightweight Sigma i-Series 90mm f2.8 to the system that yields a focal length that's a FF equivalent of approx. 135mm. While there are some long gaps between focal lengths the whole system remains light and easy to pack for just about any use. 

Today is a busy day around our house, domestically. We're having steel, raised flower beds installed and it's one of those projects that requires my input time and again. I've also had an early meeting with my banker about a project unrelated to photography. Once we get the install done it'll be time to grab the 50mm f1.1.2 and the CL and take the pair for a nice, long walk. And it's a beautiful day for it. 

More to come...